A librarian delivers a charming epistolary volume that begs to be read with pencil in hand.
In her debut book, Spence celebrates some of modern literature’s darlings while scathingly reducing other works to pulp. Covering selections from across a vast range of subjects and genres, the author delivers flirty essays and cruel-to-be-kind rejection letters to books as she “weeds” her library’s collection. Unafraid to take shots at publishing’s most lucrative franchises, her letters to Nicholas Sparks and the Twilight series convey the exasperation of a woman who has seen these books checked out constantly while worthier books remain on the shelf. “You made me say ‘erotica’ to an old lady, Grey,” Spence admonishes E.L. James’ Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Christian. “I’m going to hate you forever for that!” Valedictions to obscure nonfiction works—e.g., Better Homes and Gardens Dieting for One—signal shifting societal mores and remind us of the never-ending nature of a librarian’s job curating a collection. “Just looking at you makes me feel as if I’m squandering my life,” she writes to The Leisure Alternatives Catalog, 1979. "We can’t all be art-cinema buffs and sailing experts like you.” Readers will find plenty to agree with—the letter to the Frog and Toad books is delightful—and plenty to take issue with—only one work of Russian literature is included—as well as an amusingly disproportionate amount of time devoted to the work of Jeffrey Eugenides. We also get letters to nonbooks that every bookish person will appreciate: a love letter to the library in Beauty and the Beast, a note to an acquaintance’s too-perfect bookshelf. In the hearty second section, Spence provides a useful list of references, recommendations, and resources. Among the other notable works discussed include books by Agatha Christie, Stephen King, Walter Mosley, and Judy Blume.
A smart, funny, forthright librarian in book form.